June 11, 2009
The DAY has come and gone. I finally got to meet Catherine after over 5 years of corresponding with her via the Internet. She is everything I expected and more. I don’t know if anyone can understand what it has meant to me to have the honor of being hugged by such a ball of energy. Well, maybe those of you who have come in contact with her do know what I am talking about. I also had the honor of being hugged by Gail and her mother and father. What a fantastic group of individuals it is my honor to be associated with.
This meeting came about because of the Quilts of Valor across America Road Trip. I learned about this activity through an e-mail I received from Catherine calling for 1200 QOVs needed for the 3/8 Marines returning from Afghanistan on June 15th. I had made QOVs for our wounded back when Catherine was just beginning to get this group of all-volunteer piecers and quilters together. I made 32 QOV tops in my first two years of taking part with this fantastic group of people. People from all across the country made my tops come alive with their extraordinary skills in machine quilting. Some of these machine quilters were as far off as Alaska while others were as near as down the hall from my classroom. Sometimes I got my quilts back so I could bind them and other times the quilter bound and sent them off. I knew of only two individuals who had received my QOVs.
I learned quite a bit from reading requirements on the qovf.org web site. This time I was determined to get everything as close to the requirements as I could. Since time was an issue with me making my tops and getting them quilted, I decided I would make all my QOVs Bargello quilts. Of course, being a former Marine, I had to have Red, White and Blue material for my quilts. I had to have a proper label, a journal and a presentation case for each QOV.
Checking the planned itinerary for the road trip, I learned that the truck would be coming right through Kansas City on its way to Warrenton, MO. I begged for the group to make a short stop here in Kansas City so I could give them my 10 for the Marines. Gail said yes to stopping and I proceeded to work on the quilts, locating a transfer place, news coverage, and publicity to get the word out. I wasn’t certain I would be able to accomplish all that was needed to be done before the group arrived. But, I did it!
The hooking-up place was Metro North Mall parking lot. I received a call from Gail when they left Lincoln, NE, at 8:20 Wednesday morning. I knew I only had about 3 ½ hours before they would be here. Gail called again when they passed by St. Joseph, MO. They were only about 50 minutes from me now. I was still working on getting the lunch I wanted to provide for them. The QOVs had been packed, lunch was nearly ready, but I hadn’t gotten myself ready to meet them yet. While cleaning myself up, the telephone kept ringing. I just stopped answering it.
I was in the van and on the way to the mall (3 ½ miles from my house) when Gail called me again. She thought they had arrived at the wrong location for I wasn’t anywhere in sight. I assured her they were in the right locale. I was just late.
I pulled into the mall parking lot and there they were! Meeting them was just like old home week. Hugs were exchanged, pictures taken, lunch transferred to their vehicle (so I wouldn’t forget to give it to them), and we were off to the Liberty Memorial. This memorial is the only National Memorial to Veterans from World War I. This Memorial was the perfect place to transfer my gifts of comfort for the returning Marines. This memorial had recently been renovated. It is magnificent.
We were given parking right in front of the curved drive by the monument honoring our fallen warriors from so long ago. I got goose bumps as I stopped my van. Hopping out of the van, I was ready to get the transfer going. I knew Catherine and her group needed to get on the road to be in Warrenton, MO, in time for their 4 PM arrival. However, the curator for the Museum came out and graciously greeted all of us along with the Kansas City Star reporter and photographer. Questions were asked and answered. Photos were being taken. People began gathering to watch the goings on. It was awe-inspiring.
Finally, it was time for the transfer. I had 11 to pass on to the trailer. But, before I had them take all away, I just had to show them my #10 Patriotic Bargello. Since Gail is retired Army and I am former Marine, the museum curator wanted a photo of us holding #10 with the memorial as the backdrop. That completed, I proceeded to show Catherine my journal I had placed in book form. I included photos of me making my quit as well as information for the recipient on how to care for their gift. My presentation case has a pocket on front for the journal. I used an oversized safety pin to keep the journal from falling out of its place.
The transfer was completed. Photos were done. Interviews were over. Tour of the museum conducted. It was time for Catherine and Gail, Gail’s parents, the truck and trailer to head out. I escorted them all to the Kansas City Limits on I-70. They headed east while I headed home. I had completed my mission and it was a success! My thoughts turned to the group and the balance of their trip. I hoped they missed the rain that had been predicted to fall. I prayed they would be safe for the balance of their journey. I felt elated and downhearted at the same time. The feelings were probably a result of the rush to get everything done in time.
Catherine had asked me to write about what had happened during their visit. She wanted me to write this last night (Wednesday). I couldn’t do as she had requested. I needed time and space to reflect on all that had gone on. Frankly, I was whipped. I could barely keep my eyes open once I arrived home. As a matter of fact, I didn’t keep my eyes open. I fell asleep.
Today I found the Kansas City Star printed my story about the transfer of my QOVs. I was elated. We got coverage of our group and its mission in the Heartland of America. I’m now rejuvenated to go on making my Bargello QOVs for our wounded.
Kate in Kansas City, Mo